Covering all bases in Galway East in order to maximise the vote and retain its two seats will be the priority for Fine Gael when it holds its election selection convention for the constituency this weekend.
Fine Gael will hold its Galway East selection convention in New Inn this Sunday. The party is likely to nominate two candidates on Sunday with a third likely to be added by party HQ later.
The Fine Gael ticket at the next election will have a very different look to it from what voters are used to as both the party’s Galway East TDs - Paul Connaughton and Ulick Burke - recently announced their retirement from politics.
Four candidates will be seek nomination on Sunday - Councillor Paul Connaughton jr, son of the long serving TD; fellow county councillors Peter Feeney and Tom McHugh; and Sen Ciaran Cannon, who joined FG after the PDs, of which he was the last leader, disappeared.
Party sources indicate Cllr Connaughton is vitally certain to be nominated to run for the election. However the votes are expected to extremely tight between Cllr McHugh and Sen Cannon.
It is expected that if Cllr McHugh prevails at the convention, Sen Cannon will be added later. It is understood Sen Cannon received assurances from party leader Enda Kenny, that he would be included on the Galway East ticket in return for joining the party.
A Connaughton-McHugh-Cannon ticket would make sense for the next election. FG knows it needs to keep its two seats in the constituency, but must do so with a team that lacks the experience of deputies Connaughton snr and Burke.
Cllr Connaughton would be able to take care of the eastern parts of the constituency (Ballinasloe, Mountbellew ), Cllr McHugh would look after Tuam and northern section, while Sen Cannon would cover the Gort to Loughrea region - an area where few candidates are ever chosen to run in a general elections. This ticket would cover all the major areas of Galway East and would be well placed to maximise the potential FG vote.